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Review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015 release) Case

The following is a review of the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015 release) Case - Slim Lightweight Standing Custom Fit Cover with Auto Wake/Sleep for Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet, received as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

Nigh Perfect

A few weeks ago I was looking at tablets since my second generation Nexus 7 is starting to get rather slow, and doesn't seem to want to hold a charge as well as it once did. After taking a look at a handful of devices I decided to pick up a new Amazon Fire 8.

Naturally, when you buy a new tablet you have to buy a case for it, so I was glad to see Amazon's case up for review on Amazon Vine. While I had initially looked at the case when I was purchasing an SD card for the tablet, I was a little turned away by the price. In fact, I was definitely turned away by the price.

However, having now used the case for over three weeks I can honestly say this is one of the best cases I've had on a tablet.

The first nice thing about the case is that it leaves all of the buttons free. While a case with button covers doesn't necessarily mean the buttons require more pressure to be used, having them clear is so much easier.

The case also features a pretty powerful magnet, which combined with the case wraps around the device, means that the cover stays in place, but can still be removed with relative ease. It also sticks quite well to the back of the case, which means that it has the same profile open or closed, with no slippage. Do note that since the case can switch the power off automatically, once you put it into place initially you will have to switch it back on.

The oddest thing about the case is that the cover folds in half diagonally. Within the box itself is the two ways this fold can be used to stand it up either in portrait or landscape view. Honestly, I still haven't gotten used to this, and have to play around with the flap a bit before I get it right.

Finally, the case feels pretty ridge, but still has some flex to it. It fits fairly snug around the tablet itself, but leaves enough of the device free for it be relatively flat on the top of the tablet itself. This initially lead me to believe that it might pop out of the case, but thus far have had no issues with it.

The only minor complaint I have with this case is the fold to get the tablet standing up. However, since I do keep it mostly open, this is probably more due to lack of use. For this reason, I have to give the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015 release) Case - Slim Lightweight Standing Custom Fit Cover with Auto Wake/Sleep for Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet a full five of five stars. The case itself is pricey, especially compared with the AmazonBasics line, which I'm most familiar with, but the case quality is high, and works very well.

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(All original content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.)

Review: Verso Fire 7 2015 Case - Sea Blue Classic Slim Fit Premium PU Leather Book Folio Style Protective Case (7 inch Display - 5th Generation, 2015 Release Only)

The following is a review of the Verso Fire 7 2015 Case - Sea Blue Classic Slim Fit Premium PU Leather Book Folio Style Protective Case (7 inch Display - 5th Generation, 2015 Release Only), received as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

If only the hinge were better

A few weeks ago I was looking at tablets since my second generation Nexus 7 is starting to get rather slow, and doesn't seem to want to hold a charge as well as it once did. After taking a look at a handful of devices I decided to pick up a new Amazon Fire 8.

However, over the course of the next couple days the price of the Amazon Fire 7 kept nagging at me, and since I'm a developer, and had some interest in developing for the Amazon Appstore, decided that I could splurge and get myself an early Christmas gift. Of course, that also meant that I needed to get a new case.

The first thing I immediately noticed was the material the case was made with, and the second was the smell. While I've since forgotten the smell, it lingered for the first handful of days, but was gone within a week.

The texture of the materials is still about, but hard to explain. It's smooth, but it has something that gives it a very slight texture. It's hard to explain, and is better than the inside texture, which is much more noticeable. I'm not sure what it is, but if I rub my thumbs back and forth on it the sound and texture causes 'tingles' in my upper back/neck.

Next we have the hinge, which based upon my review title, is the key sticking point for me. Unlike many other cases the back doesn't stay attached to the back of the case, but instead about two thirds fold away and are used for the stand.

While nice in principle, I instead found that if I wanted to hold the device as I would with a book, that the flexibility of the back and hinge caused the hinge to either fold oddly, or the top and most of the bottom to be too loose.

The other feature of the note are the buttons on the top of the case that cover both volume buttons and the power. While the volume buttons seem fine, with little more pressure required, the power button does require more pressure to switch on/off. The impact of this is fairly minor.

Finally, the case itself fits snugly around the Fire 7, and the top cover can be held in place, covering the screen, with the attached band. In practice I found that putting one edge of the band in place was sufficient most of the time. It seems sturdy enough, but time will tell how long it lasts.

Overall, the hinge is the biggest issue I have with this cover. For the 7-inch tablet I feel like my use case is as reading device, which means I ran into the hinge either buckling or sliding down far too often. Because of this I knock a star off and give the Verso Fire 7 2015 Case 4 of 5 stars.

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(All original content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.)

Review: Fury of Dracula Third Edition Board Game

The following is a review of the Fury of Dracula Third Edition Board Game, which I received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

So many pieces, but easy after a week

I haven't played any of the previous editions of Fury of Dracula, so I can't speak to the changes made in this third edition. However, as I understand it, the game has changed for the better.

This supports 2 to 5 players, with one player controlling Dracula and the others controlling one or more of the hunters. This does mean that in a two player game one person is controlling all four hunters, which is how I played it for the purposes of this review.

The game has an approximate run time of 2 to 3 hours, which is why I'm reviewing it from a 2-player perspective; it was difficult to find others to invest that much time, with the perceived difficulty, given the amount of pieces in the box. However, to some extent the difficult is lessened since certain cards that one would think are different, are actually the same. For example, while there are hunter and Dracula event cards, these are combined into a single pile during play. After playing a week of rounds in the game, we had it down pretty well.

While I've seen them played, I haven't played a hidden movement game like this before. I rather enjoyed how it worked, with location cards being used to track where Dracula has moved, instead of using some sort of sheet and writing locations down. It also lessens the ability for Dracula to move backwards (although he can still be tricky to locate).

The game works with the hunters playing once during the day and then once at night, with Dracula then going at night. This cycle repeats for each day of the week, until either Dracula is defeated, or he wins. However, if the game doesn't end after a few weeks Dracula starts gaining influence (his way of winning) at a very steady rate. So the game does have some maximum number of turns, based upon how the players do.

The game itself seemed relatively balanced, which I understand wasn't the case in earlier editions, with Dracula having a slight advantage. At first I found this to be slightly interesting since Dracula has a number of disadvantages, having less turns and allowing the players to find where he's been, since Dracula's last six locations can (generally) be discovered. He also can't backtrack, since the last six locations aren't part of the location deck he uses to move.

However, as was evident when Dracula was discovered to have moved into Italy, it's still possible for him to evade capture, as he did when he traveled by sea for three turns, opening up the number of possible locations he could have landed at. He can also leave behind encounters at locations he visited, which may either cause immediate harm, or if left as-is, help him slow down the hunters or finish the game.

One last note is that unlike some games, in Fury of Dracula no player is completely out of the game. While hunters can be defeated, they eventually recover health and can continue on the quest. Each hunter has their own advantages and disadvantages, so no one hunter necessarily dominates over the others.

Finally, the board components themselves are of quite nice quality. The game includes five figures, which are of nice quality (and could potentially be painted), a nice quality board and cardboard pieces, and nice cards. The artwork is of note since it matches the style of the game relatively well. We did find that two of the figures were easy to mistake at a quick glance, which unfortunately did lead to combat happening with a character that should not have been in combat. However, with three or more players, closer attention, or perhaps a paint job, this wouldn't be an issue. It also only happened once.

In conclusion, the only downside I found was the amount of time it took, which was closer to four hours, but was also our first time. Otherwise, when I can find people that will play it, much like Betrayal at House on the Hill and BioShock, Fury of Dracula, Third Edition will be a game I'll recommend we try. 5 of 5 stars.

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